MANILA, FEBRUARY 25, 2013 (PHILSTAR) Britain’s Prince Philip wonders if the Philippines is now “half empty” because of the large number of Filipino nurses working in UK hospitals.

The comment drew mixed reactions yesterday, according to a report by BBC News.

“The Philippines must be half empty – you’re all here running the NHS (National Health Service),” Prince Philip was quoted as saying.

The 91-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth was addressing a Filipino nurse he met during a visit to Luton and Dunstable Hospitals where he unveiled a new cardiac center.

While some reports called it a “racist remark,” BBC noted that the Duke of Edinburgh is “well known for his outspoken and sometimes controversial comments.”

A report recalled how Prince Philip asked a group of British students during a 1986 visit to China: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.”

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During a trip to the Cayman Islands in 1994, he asked a native: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”

Speaking to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea, the prince said in 1998: “You managed not to get eaten, then?”

Meanwhile, the hospital’s spokesperson insisted that Prince Phillip would never intend to cause offense and liked to make odd jokes “to put people at ease.”

The Filipino nurse, on the other hand, seemed to take Prince Phillip’s joke in good humor and laughed.

Filipino nurses continue to work in the UK because of the high salary and other benefits.

According to recent data, 16,184 out of the UK’s 670,000 nurses are from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas showed a two-digit increase in the number of Pinoys abroad in 2011.

A total of 10.46 million Pinoys are in 217 countries and territories as of 2011, the commission reported. This is a 10.7-percent increase from 9.45 million in 2010.

The number is also equivalent to more than a quarter (25.4 percent) of the country’s workforce, pegged at 41.94 million as per Labor department data.


[Muslims at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo district of Manila on Saturday express their support to Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and followers. DANNY PATA]

Reprieve for Pinoys in Sabah By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan - The Sulu sultan’s “royal army” in North Borneo got a reprieve as the Philippine and Malaysian governments adopted a wait-and-see stance on the standoff in Lahad Datu town in Sabah that entered second week on Saturday.

The Malaysian government did not take any action in the remote village of Kampung Tanduo although the Filipinos insisted on staying in the forested area beyond the Friday deadline set by Kuala Lumpur.

“While there is a standoff, all the parties concerned have expressed commitment and desire to have this end peacefully,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte in an interview over state-owned dzRB radio.

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs had yet to receive word from Kuala Lumpur regarding the four-day extension Manila requested from Malaysian security forces, but Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told journalists in Malaysia that he had been informed of Manila’s request for an extension, but he said the Malaysian foreign minister will be the one to decide the matter.

“Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman just called me this morning and I told him I would leave it (the extension) for Wisma Putra (the foreign ministry) to decide,” Hishamuddin was quoted as saying by Malaysia’s New Straits Times.

“If there is a request to extend the deadline, do not extend it for too long as there is a limit to it in our quest of safeguarding our own country,” he added.

At the same time, Valte said Malacañang Palace has rejected a proposal of the Moro National Liberation Front to send peacekeepers to Sabah because all parties involved had “conveyed preference to have situation resolved peacefully.”

On Friday, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also said their government is aiming for a peaceful solution, adding that it was important to resolve the issue without bloodshed.

The group of around 200 Filipinos, some of whom are armed, arrived in Sabah on February 9 and refused to leave, claiming that they were followers of the Sultan of Sulu who owned Sabah. They were promptly surrounded by Malaysian security forces and a standoff ensued.

Malaysian security forces have adopted a cautious wait-and-see stance in the ongoing standoff, but the standoff has taken a political color in Malaysia which is expected to hold general elections not later than June 27.

At the same time, the Philippines has deployed six naval ships to Tawi-Tawi to prevent other Filipinos from crossing the sea border.

President Aquino had earlier asked the armed group to give up peacefully because their actions may lead to a confrontation, but the group rebuffed the request.


Philippines to dispatch "humanitarian mission" ship in Sabah ( | Updated February 24, 2013 - 9:26pm

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government is set to dispatch Sunday night a "humanitarian mission" ship to fetch and ferry back the women and other civilians among the 180-member group who are holed out in Lahad Datu, Malaysia, a senior government official said today.

The ship sailed from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi province, to the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

"We sent the ship to Lahad Datu on a humanitarian mission. We are deeply concerned about the presence of five women and other civilians in the group, and we urge them to board the ship without delay and return home," he said.

The ship is being prepositioned offshore Lahad Datu while talks with the group are underway, he explained.

There are reportedly some 180 individuals in the group, including some 30 armed escorts, who have been holed up in the area for almost two weeks already.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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